When 12-year-old Sarah Huycke and her 10-year-old brother Kale released a lone dove into the wild Wednesday afternoon, it signified an important moment for supporters of Evergreen Hospice.
The youngsters let the bird free at the end of ceremonies marking construction of the new facility on more than 6 acres at Waverly Drive and Del Rio Avenue S.E. More than 200 attended.
T. Gerding Construction of Corvallis actually broke ground at the site early in July. The release of the dove at Wednesday’s event celebrated the project taking flight.
Completion is planned for June 2012.
“This is a glorious day,” said David Triebes, CEO of Samaritan Albany General Hospital. “It is truly a community project but also truly a regional project.”
Triebes noted the efforts of individuals and organizations from throughout Linn and Benton counties in getting the hospice to where it is now.
He honored the many contributions that led to the start of construction on the estimated $5.5 million project.
Megan Johnson, a spokeswoman for the the hospital, said the hope is to have the roof on the building before winter.
“It’s a groundbreaking but as you can see, ground has already been broken,” said Dell Alexander, chair of the hospital’s board of directors.
Alexander told those in attendance to conduct their own personal groundbreaking by planting daffodil bulbs that were handed out at the conclusion of the ceremony.
“Plant them at home and when they bloom in the spring it will be in honor of the dream of this house,” he said.
According to Kim Sass, Hospital Foundation director, fundraising began about a year ago and has reached 62 percent of the goal.
“We’re still in the process of grant-writing and seeking individual contributions to reach our goal,” Sass said.
Hospice provides care for people who have fatal illnesses and are near death.
The hospice has been at its current location at 11th and Elm for 25 years. The new building will have a 12-bed inpatient unit, room for outpatients, a pharmacy and eventually physicians offices.
The new hospice house will provide services which are directed by the patients’ physicians and include nursing, counseling and bereavement support.
“You will all be touched by this special place,” said Dr. Takiko May, assistant medical director for Evergreen.
“It’s been a snowball of passion,” added Triebes. “A passion of the heart.”